Scholar Category: Homelessness/Poverty

Aaron Staten

Major: Entrepreneurship (Business School)

Project: Free (wireless) internet for impoverished students and those on EBT/Medicaid.

Inspiration: I hacked video games at the age of 8 (1997) and am very knowledgeable about anything dealing with computers and networking. I founded my own computer repair business around the age of 15 that is still in operation, going on for 2 decades. This project won’t take much funding other than equipment costs. I have friends in the South who can professionally climb towers and set everything up.

Future Goals: Providing resources for those who can’t afford internet, even with the ACP program which takes $30 off any eligible internet service provider. I’ve run out of internet on my phone and had to pay more, so I can imagine how much more it impacts those even less unfortunate than I am. This will include home and mobile internet, so one can stream videos on khan, YouTube, or any medium and never worry about at least one resource needed for a proper education.


Graciela “Gracie” Leal

Major: Social Work

Project: Hostile architecture is negatively impacting where and how people experiencing homelessness get to live. My goal is to shift the funding that is put towards this kind of architecture towards resources more beneficial to the impacted people.

Inspiration: Volunteering at food banks has allowed me to see the different kinds of people that are struggling, even within the small town where I come from where I thought everybody was financially stable. It makes me want to help these people live comfortably and safely.

Future Goals: I want to get more funding put towards homeless shelters in Denver or other major resources that they could use day-to-day.

Samantha Rodriguez

Major: Sociology

Project: Bringing awareness to the assumptions made about the unhoused community.

Inspiration: What inspired my project is similar work I did in high school for a math project. I dealt with lots of statistics that I gathered from my school community and used that to decipher the general feeling held by the community surrounding the unhoused community.

Future Goals: I hope to bring awareness on ways to assist the unhoused community in different ways that people usually assist the unhoused community. I hope to build trust between those that choose to assist and the unhoused community.

Alexandria “Lexi” Walker

Major: Nutrition and Food Science, Minor in Chem, Pre-dental

Project: For my project, I have researched nutrition, good oral hygiene practices, chronic diseases, homelessness and all correlations between these topics. I hope to be able to talk to local dentists and ask for donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss that people usually get after every hygiene visit. I plan to package and distribute these to the local homeless people that I serve at the Fort Collins Rescue Mission. My plan is to give one bag to every person when they’re getting their meal an informational pamphlet regarding the importance of dental health & overall health. My goals and visions are to fill a void by supplying resources and educating others to help improve dental hygiene and the overall health of homeless and low-income people.

Inspiration: When my dad was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease, it sparked my interest in the dental field due to the disease having a large effect on his oral health. Over the course of my education, I have come to realize that so much of our overall health is affected by what is going on inside our mouths. According to the CDC, oral conditions are frequently considered separate from other chronic conditions, but these are actually interrelated. Poor oral health is associated with other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. As a local volunteer myself, I can say that there is no specific work being done on the issue of dental hygiene in Fort Collins regarding homeless or low-income people and families.

Future Goals: Every member of the homeless community will have resources and access for dental health care, Continuous supplies will be donated, Find someone to eventually take over this project idea‚ Dental Hygiene will contribute to their overall health‚ More Biofilm Growth Experiment: Streptococci Viridians‚ Peru, impoverished areas, learn more, correlations? I believe that a happy, healthy, confident smile can go a long way (:



Bemnet Belachew Tefera

Major: Sociology Concentration Criminology/Criminal Justice and Political Science Concentration U.S Law and Policy

Project: Help families and single-parent households battle homelessness by providing workshops that help them learn about technology, resume building, and job searching, and provide opportunities to build profiles.

Inspiration: Communities around me that are actively making an effort for social justice inspired me to make a change and help others. Poverty in America has been increasing as of late and communities need as much help as they can get.

Future Plans: I hope that in Fort Collins there will be families and individuals that will be positively affected by my project. I would like to see a drop in the percentage of homeless individuals and help people find housing and jobs.

Mariela Irene Paul

Major: Human Development and Family Studies

Project: My project works with children experiencing homelessness in the city of Fort Collins. I plan on working with an organization for homelessness, Family Housing Network, as well as CSU student to become mentors and a support system for these children. We will assist the children in the program with school work and do different fun activities to engage with each child.

Inspiration: Key communities at CSU has inspired me to choose my project. During my first year at CSU, I had the pleasure to connect with the Family Housing Network through my Key Cluster(Service). Volunteering at this organization made me want to further my contribution by working with children in homelessness.

Future Plans: Through my project, I hope to involve and educate other CSU students about homelessness. I also hope to accomplish my goal of making the children feel like they are capable of pursuing higher education and have the support of CSU students throughout their journey called life.

Tara McMurtry

Project: I am partnering with the Sierra Club and Project VOYCE to produce a series of web videos focusing on Globeville/Elyria-Swansea and the I-70 expansion. The videos will engage with the ways in which these northeast Denver neighborhoods have been isolated, neglected, and abused for over a century, and the ways in which residents still make the neighborhood a vibrant, close-knit community.

Inspiration: I was born and raised in the Highland neighborhood of Denver, though I moved away for college and early adulthood. When I moved back in my early 20s, Denver was on the cusp of the current economic and housing boom, and the boom utterly transformed the neighborhood I grew up in. While I’m happy to see my city and my neighborhood thriving, I feel that the intense growth and development left out the low-income, minority folks who lived in Denver before everyone wanted to live in Denver. The I-70 expansion and the impact it will have on Globeville/Elyria-Swansea is a prominent example of this, and I predict it will transform Globeville/Elyria-Swansea in the same way Highland was transformed: the neighborhoods may look cleaner and safer, but they will also be richer and whiter. Meanwhile, the people who lived in these neighborhoods when they were dirty and dangerous will be pushed farther into the literal margins of the city. I am not anti-growth, but I can’t support growth that leaves out poor people and people of color.

Future Plans for Project:I hope that by showing young people, especially youth who are already looked past because of their skin color or social class standing, that their minds are a powerful tool and if they tell themselves “I can” and out in a little hard work, they can accomplish huge things in life! Maybe I will help to inspire the next president of the US 🙂

Kathryn (Kat) Goldberg

Project: I am gathering data and cliff effect stories to be presented to the New Mexico State Legislature this fall and possibly to Mick Mulvaney at a later date.

Inspiration: I was a participant in the anti-poverty program with which I now volunteer. The public policies currently in place make it incredibly difficult to move out of poverty and into financial self-sufficiency.

Future Plans for Project: People in poverty are often invisible members of our society. I want to give them a voice in helping to change public policy and changing the negative public opinion about the impoverished in our communities.

Emmanuel Cooke

Project: I am focused on starting a networking club to help minorities find opportunities.


Inspiration: I saw that my sister and many minorities were having a hard time finding jobs and wanted to build a relationship with students and employers.

Future Plans for Project: I hope to build a bridge between students and employees.

Lisa Marie Fertman

Project: To host 4 dinner/evening events for the Elyria district at Colorado Miners Community Center to improve nutrition of the families residing in this vulnerable area.

Inspiration: I have a deep passion about working with those who are homeless or living in poverty and the behaviors/symptoms that have brought them to this point. I personally can relate to these situations and desire to pay it forward.

Future Plans for Project: To increase physical activity and academics in this community.